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Mbeki down on twitter

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki — often perceived as overly-intellectual and removed from the people during his tenure — made disparaging comments this week about Twitter, as well as other forms of internet-based communications.

If you want to discuss knowledge which has got to do with the betterment of society I don’t think it (twitter) is appropriate.

Even the internet in general, blogging and so on, is not the place where you can put all these things under theories.

Well… as I am writing here on a blog, one that sends out auto-tweets, maybe I should be offended. He’s certainly right that some bad information can get spread pretty quickly in the unregulated blogo-twitter-sphere — which relates to my earlier post about concerns for false weather reports. But given all of the fantastic ways in which Africans are beginning to use information technology and social media to improve their lives, once again, Mbeki is missing the big picture. Ironically, he developed his own absolutely wacky fascination with radical theories of HIV and AIDS treatment through discoveries he made on the web. So maybe this statement is a backhanded mea culpa?


About Evan Lieberman

I am a Professor of Political Science at MIT, and I conduct research, write, and teach about development, ethnic politics, and research methods.


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